NBA Player Rankings: Who's Soaring, Who's Sinking in 2013?

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2013

NBA Player Rankings: Who's Soaring, Who's Sinking in 2013?

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    As the 2013 portion of the 2012-13 season continues to progress before our very eyes, the NBA Player Power Rankings just keep changing. 

    While some players are using scoring outbursts, prolonged stretches of impressive efficiency and defensive skills to soar up the rankings, slumps and streaks marked by negative output are forcing others to sink. 

    In the Association, every good and bad week matters. There's just too much talent in the league to remain complacent. 

    So, how have your favorite players fared? Have they risen or fallen since last week's edition? 


    Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, are current through Saturday, Jan. 12.

Injured Players

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    As a quick housekeeping note, injured players are not considered for the star player power rankings. If a player is out for a prolonged period of time, he's automatically ineligible for the next 20 slides.

    Therefore, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Andrew Bynum will not be appearing, although they would certainly make the cut if healthy.

Honorable Mentions

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    LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep LaMarcus Aldridge out of the top 20 as he keeps the Portland Trail Blazers in the playoff picture. I truly want to push him into the actual rankings, but this league is becoming more and more filled with great players.   


    DeMarcus Cousins, C, Sacramento Kings

    When DeMarcus Cousins focuses on basketball and keeps his head on his shoulders, it's unbelievable how much he can accomplish. His shot is finally coming around, but achieving consistency with his physical prowess is the next step.  


    Stephen Curry, PG, Golden State Warriors

    Stephen Curry isn't just the best three-point marksman in the NBA today, he's on pace to become the greatest downtown shooter in the history of this game. And it won't even be close if he keeps hitting shots with his alarming level of accuracy and frequency.  


    Jrue Holiday, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

    The closest player to earning that No. 20 spot you'll see on the next slide, Jrue Holiday's importance to the Philadelphia 76ers transcend his numbers because of the crucial nature of his role. And still, Holiday's numbers are pretty darn impressive.  


    Zach Randolph, PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Z-Bo drops out of the numbered section for the first time in a while after failing to assert his dominance over the glass ever since Christmas. In nine games, he's only recorded double-digit boards three times. 

20. Al Jefferson (Previous Ranking: Unranked)

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    Team: Utah Jazz

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 20.78 PER


    As the Utah Jazz continue to hang around in the playoff picture in a tough Western Conference, two contributing factors stand out. 

    First is the Jazz's depth, both in terms of quality starters and substitutes who would start for many other teams. Second is the stellar play of Al Jefferson, who threatens 20 points and 10 rebounds each night he steps onto the court. 

    Jefferson may not be an incredible defender, but his fundamental play with his back to the basket is a nice breath of fresh air in a league with a constantly declining number of old-school big men. 

19. Rajon Rondo (Previous Ranking: No. 15)

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: PG

    Age: 26

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 11.1 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.9 steals, 18.37 PER


    It feels weird to have Rajon Rondo nearly out of the top 20, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to justify his inclusion any higher up in the rankings. 

    During the past week, Rondo served his one-game suspension and then returned against the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. Although the Boston Celtics won both games, Rondo struggled with both his shot and controlling his turnovers.

    The point guard's ranking is less a testament to Rondo's play than that of his teammates', though. Other than Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, No. 9 hasn't had too many other consistent options to pass to.  

18. Brook Lopez (Previous Ranking: No. 20)

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    Team: Brooklyn Nets

    Position: C

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 2.1 blocks, 0.6 steals, 24.89 PER


    Brook Lopez continues to improve across the board. He's also stayed healthy and on the court for the most part, so I'm not sure which achievement is more impressive. 

    While you won't mistake the 7-footer for a defensive stopper or a physical presence capable of pulling down any board in sight, Lopez has become more than adequate in each area, and it's shown in the Brooklyn Nets' win-loss record. 

    And, of course, the Stanford product has remained a potent offensive force. 

17. Paul Pierce (Previous Ranking: No. 17)

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    Team: Boston Celtics

    Position: SF

    Age: 35

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.5 steals, 20.33 PER


    Paul Pierce is one of the host of veteran stars determined to prove that age is only a number during the 2012-13 season. 

    While continuing to serve as an underrated lockdown defender on the perimeter, Pierce has remained the primary source of offense for the surging Boston Celtics. Although he struggled against the Phoenix Suns, Pierce scored in high volume despite limited minutes throughout the past week. 

    To counter his declining athleticism, the small forward has upped his performance from downtown. While shooting 38.7 percent—far better than his career average from three-point land—Pierce has attempted 5.2 treys per game. 

16. David Lee (Previous Ranking: No. 18)

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    Team: Golden State Warriors

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 29

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 0.9 steals, 20.45 PER


    Another week has seen David Lee produce another three double-doubles. 

    While focusing his energies on the offensive end of the court, Lee has continued to spark the Golden State Warriors whenever he's playing. Quite frankly, it's tough to argue that he's been anything less than an elite big man during the first half of the 2012-13 season. 

    No player in the league is closer to averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. 

15. Dwight Howard (Previous Ranking: No. 13)

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 12.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.6 blocks, 1.0 steals, 19.96 PER


    Dwight Howard's shoulder kept him out of the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup during the past week until Sunday night's contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers. During that game, D12 started to look a little bit like his old self, dominating the first quarter with 10 points and five rebounds on 4-of-5 shooting en route to a 22-point, 14-rebound night.

    That said, it's tough to reevaluate Howard after his prolonged stretch out of the lineup.  

14. Marc Gasol (Previous Ranking: No. 16)

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    Team: Memphis Grizzlies

    Position: C

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.9 blocks, 1.0 steals, 19.27 PER


    Marc Gasol's offensive game struggled during his last few games, but it's becoming increasingly apparent that he's the most crucial cog in the Memphis Grizzlies' defense. 

    One of the most cerebral players in basketball, Gasol simply never seems to be out of position on the court. He doesn't over pursue, and he always rotates to the proper spot on the court. While his defense might not be glamorous, each member of the Grizz can feel confident knowing that the Spaniard has his back. 

    It's impressive enough that he moved up in the rankings despite a poor shooting week and a surprising lack of involvement in the offense. 

13. Chris Bosh (Previous Ranking: No. 14)

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.5 blocks, 0.7 steals, 22.03 PER


    Chris Bosh's latest week in the lineup was incredibly indicative of his entire third season with the Miami Heat. The defense and offense was there, but the rebounding, well, not so much. 

    Bosh only averaged 4.7 rebounds per game, but he still proved his value by putting up 19.7 points, 3.0 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.0 steals per contest while shooting 61.5 percent from the field and nailing 11 of his 13 freebies. 

    As good as the power forward has been—and it's increasingly apparent that he is a power forward, not a center—he needs to venture closer to the basket once in a while. 

12. Blake Griffin (Previous Ranking: No. 12)

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PF

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.6 blocks, 1.5 steals, 22.69 PER


    Even though Blake Griffin didn't even attempt a single shot in the fourth quarter of a surprising loss to the Orlando Magic, the power forward has still been rather dominant. His offensive output—30 points and seven assists—helped out the Los Angeles Clippers in a big way. 

    If you still believe that Griffin is a dunking machine who can't impact the game in any other way, you clearly haven't been watching him play during the 2012-13 season. 

    Griffin's mid-range game is constantly developing, and his defense continues to get better and better. 

11. Tony Parker (Previous Ranking: No. 10)

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: PG

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 19.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.9 steals, 22.58 PER


    Tony Parker has posted yet another impressive week as the point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, highlighted by a game-tying three-pointer against the Memphis Grizzlies. 

    He hasn't been involving the other members of the San Antonio Spurs to the extent that he normally does, but the French floor general has been sensational when calling his own numbers. In his last three games, Parker has averaged 24.7 points on 30-of-52 shooting from the field. 

    While he could do a little bit better on the defensive end of the court, Parker's offense has continued to impress. 

10. Kyrie Irving (Previous Ranking: No. 11)

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    Team: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Position: PG

    Age: 20

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 23.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.6 steals, 22.38 PER


    Can you imagine how deadly Kyrie Irving would be if the Cleveland Cavaliers had actually surrounded him with complementary talent? He's already been dominant enough while the Cavs have turned him into a one-man band. 

    Irving has done a sensational job limiting his turnovers in recent games while still maintaining a potent offensive output. And as good as he's been, Irving still managed to one-up himself against the Atlanta Hawks. 

    In that 99-83 victory, Irving scored 33 points on only 15 shots, going 11-of-15 from the field, 5-of-6 from downtown and 6-of-6 from the charity stripe. He also added four assists and three steals while only turning over the ball twice. 

9. Dwyane Wade (Previous Ranking: No. 8)

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SG

    Age: 30

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 20.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.3 steals, 22.82 PER


    Dwyane Wade's numbers would have looked a lot better during the past week if he'd actually played more than 25 minutes against the Sacramento Kings. Then again, he didn't need to because he and the rest of the Miami Heat were so dominant during the early portion of that "contest." 

    Although he's no longer the alpha dog at South Beach like he was during the pre-LeBron days, Wade still looks like a superstar whenever he's on the court. 

    The rumors of his demise are still exaggerated for whatever reason, though. 

8. Tim Duncan (Previous Ranking: No. 9)

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    Team: San Antonio Spurs

    Position: PF/C

    Age: 36 

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.6 blocks, 0.8 steals, 24.24 PER


    Ever since the calendars switched over to 2013, Tim Duncan has been blocking shots with a vengeance. Over his last four games, The Big Fundamental has swatted away three, four, three and seven shots despite only breaking past the 30-minutes-played mark once. 

    Even when Duncan doesn't spend a lot of time on the court—something that's been happening with increasing frequency as he continues to age—the big man racks up the stats that matter. Take his Sunday night game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, for example. 

    Despite only playing 29 minutes, he posted 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists, seven blocks and three steals. In the first half alone, Duncan recorded five points, eight rebounds, three assists, six blocks and two steals.  

7. Russell Westbrook (Previous Ranking: No. 7)

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: PG

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 21.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 2.1 steals, 23.17 PER


    Russell Westbrook is still prone to the occasional brick-filled night. He missed far too many shots against both the Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers. But you have to admire his ability to compartmentalize his shots and continue playing with confidence on his cold nights. 

    Despite those off nights, Westbrook still scores at a high level while racking up the assists. 

    As Oklahoma City Thunder fans know all too well, you have to accept the bad with the good because of how sensational that good can be. 

6. James Harden (Previous Ranking: No. 6)

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    Team: Houston Rockets

    Position: SG

    Age: 23

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 26.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.9 steals, 23.38 PER


    James Harden is just an unbelievable offensive basketball player. The focus he puts on scoring does force his defense to suffer, but there's no denying that the bearded shooting guard is anything less than stellar when it comes to scoring and creating for others. 

    And the scary part is that he just keeps getting better and better.

    During the four-game stretch that made up this past week, Harden averaged 27.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists while shooting 52 percent from the field and 82.8 percent from the free-throw line. 

5. Kobe Bryant (Previous Ranking: No. 5)

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    Team: Los Angeles Lakers

    Position: SG

    Age: 34

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 30.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 0.3 blocks, 1.5 steals, 24.79 PER


    At what point do we hold Kobe Bryant accountable for his defensive efforts? While his offensive output has been nothing short of legendary, the Mamba's defensive inefficiency isn't doing much to help the Los Angeles Lakers stay in the playoff hunt. 

    The Purple and Gold were able to end the string of losses by playing the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they won't be able to play a team of that caliber each and every night. 

    Kobe's rotations are going to have to get better, and he can't be content to watch the ball instead of helping out his teammates. There's just no chemistry between the shooting guard and his teammates on that end of the court. 

    While Kobe's offense is enough to keep him squarely within the top five, the gap between he and those behind him is narrowing. 

4. Carmelo Anthony (Previous Ranking: No. 4)

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    Team: New York Knicks

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 29.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.5 blocks, 1.0 steals, 26.09 PER


    Carmelo Anthony's value to the New York Knicks was made quite clear when he sat out against the Indiana Pacers and the offense ground to a halt, putting up only 76 points in the loss. Of course, that may have had something to do with the Pacers' stellar defense as well. 

    'Melo has been doing more than just score when he's on the court lately. In addition to posting those gaudy point totals, Anthony has also been dishing the rock effectively and playing great half-court defense.

    Transition defense? Well, let's not go into that. 

3. Chris Paul (Previous Ranking: No. 3)

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    Team: Los Angeles Clippers

    Position: PG

    Age: 27

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 0.0 blocks, 2.6 steals, 26.58 PER


    Is there anything Chris Paul can't do for the Los Angeles Clippers? 

    In his two games during the past week, CP3 recorded 16 assists in each performance while averaging 14.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting. He wasn't able to lead his team to a victory over the Orlando Magic, but it's tough to pin that on the point guard. 

    If Paul continues to play like he has been during the Clippers' first 37 games, he's going to make a serious run at challenging LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the MVP race. 

2. Kevin Durant (Previous Ranking: No. 2)

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    Team: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Position: SF

    Age: 24

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 28.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 blocks, 1.6 steals, 28.58 PER


    What's the proper word/phrase to use when describing Kevin Durant's offensive prowess? 

    Out of this world? Ridiculous? Sensational?  

    Durant has now exploded in back-to-back games, putting up 42 points on 25 shots against the Los Angeles Lakers and then 33 on 21 shots against the Portland Trail Blazers. Even when you throw a prototypical Durant-stopper like Andrei Kirilenko or Nicolas Batum against him, Durant is still going to torture the defense. 

    Although it's much improved, No. 35's overall game still isn't quite strong enough to challenge the basketball machine that is LeBron James for the No. 1 spot, though.

1. LeBron James (Previous Ranking: No. 1)

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    Team: Miami Heat

    Position: SF/PF

    Age: 28

    2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 25.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 0.9 blocks, 1.6 steals, 29.59 PER


    LeBron James had what might very well be his worst game of the 2012-13 season against the Portland Trail Blazers, failing to break into the 20s in the scoring column for the first time during the current campaign. 

    And in that 92-90 loss to the upstart playoff contenders in the Western Conference, LeBron still recorded 15 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, a block and two steals. 

    That's a game that would stand out as a positive one in many players' careers. Not many guys are capable of ever producing a line that well rounded.

    And that was an off game for the best basketball player in the world.